The Listening Post

Israel elections: The media battle

Netanyahu’s allies and enemies in the media; plus, fixers, the local helpers who make international reporting possible.

When the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a campaign stop this past week in Washington DC to make a speech about Iran’s nuclear development, many saw it as an electioneering speech, with the republicans in control of Congress gifting Netanyahu a platform and some valuable face time.

The way his speech was covered by the media back in Israel stood out, particularly on Israeli newspapers which are a big part of the election story. The most widely-read newspaper in Israel used to be Yediot Ahronoth, until Israel Hayoum hit the newsstands – a free paper owned by the American billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who is a staunch supporter of Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Israel Hayoum is now widely circulated and can even be ordered for delivery on your door step for free. A few months back the paper became the target of a new piece of legislation that went before the Knesset that if it had passed would have made it illegal in Israel to distribute a loss-making newspaper for free. The so-called “Israel Hayoum law” has been put on hold for the time being as Israel is nearing closer to general elections.

Helping us understand and dissect the current state of the media in Israel are Lisa Goldman, a correspondent from +972 magazine; Eva Berger from the school of Media Studies at COMAS University; Shuki Tausig, a correspondent from 7th Eye; and opinions editor at the Jerusalem Post, Seth Frantzman.

Other media stories on our radar this week: A documentary planned to be shown collectively in several countries on international mother’s day telling the story of a gang rape and the murder of an Indian student has caused much controversy as the Indian government has banned it; Rebekah Brooks, the former editor of News of the World, is reportedly heading back to New York to work on Murdochs News Corporation; and Bangladesh says it has arrested the main suspect behind the murder of the prominent atheist blogger.

Fixers: The unsung heroes of journalism

This week for our feature we take a look the role the fixers play in the reporting of international news. More often than not when news organisations allocate their correspondents to report from abroad, many of them rely on the fixer, the local talent, the man or woman on the ground capable of securing that all important interview, reading between the lines in a local complex situation; the super producer whose strategic and logistic knowledge is crucial to news organisations and their correspondents. The Listening Post’s Will Yong shines a light into the work of fixers, often the unsung heroes of journalism.

On our end note this week we take a look at how Ukraine and Russia is communicating with each other – not in the diplomatic front but through their university students in social media. Ever since the fall of Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovich there were conflicting narratives between the media outlets serving audiences from both Moscow and Kiev. To help build a clearer picture students from both countries have send out videos online describing their own version of events. This piece of social media interaction will most likely not shift the story in Ukraine but highlights the scepticism amongst the younger generation’s suspicions over how Ukraine is being covered.